This Is My Child - the new MNHQ campaign. Everyone come look please!

(303 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 16-Aug-13 15:16:01

Hello,

As lots of you will already know, we've spent the last few months working on a new campaign called 'This Is My Child' - and it's launching on Monday. (We're letting you know about it now because there's a rather nice piece about in in the Guardian this weekend.)

You can read about the background to the campaign here, but in essence it's about myth-busting and awareness-raising - so we'd really love you all to share it as widely as possible. We've consulted with Mumsnetters and the material is supported by input from some of the leading charities in the field: Mencap, Contact A Family and Every Disabled Child Matters.

Over the years on Mumsnet, parents of children with SN have described how their lives are made more difficult by the occasional (or not-so-occasional) judginess of members of the public. They've described how this can contribute to their isolation, placing limits on their social opportunities because they can't face the stress and disapproval that comes with public interactions.

That's why we came up with This Is My Child. Its aim is to support parents of children with additional needs, inform everyone else, and open up a conversation about how we can all act together to make day-to-day life a bit easier for these families.

The input of parents caring for children with special needs has always provided a fascinating perspective for other MNers, encouraging empathy and giving real insight into what life can be like. We're hoping that our myth-busters, tips for non-experts and strategies for parents and carers, along with our background facts and figures, will help to bring the wisdom and perspective of Mumsnet SN posters to a wider audience.

So if you like what you read and think someone you know would find it interesting or useful, please share it as widely as you can (you'll find our impressively large sharing buttons on each page wink).

And for the Tweeps among you, we'll be holding a Twitter party on the #ThisIsMyChild hashtag on Tuesday between 1pm and 2pm; please join in if you can.

As ever, we'd love to know your thoughts and hear your feedback, so please use this thread to post up anything that occurs to you.

Thanks
MNHQ

TBH I can understand it.

No school in this competitive age wants to get a good reputation for SEN especially an outstanding school in an affluent area (which is where parents of children with a statement are likely to try first), as they get less FSM and other monies and are desperate to keep their SATS scores. If they are kind to one kid or engaging with the parents who knows where it will lead?

SunnyIntervals Tue 27-Aug-13 10:28:51

Understandable, but not where we should be at. Schools should be genuinely educating their community, not fighting with each other for money. If the funding was based on value add for every child and that was judged in a sensible way for children with SEN then schools would be incentivised to do what I would hope most right-thinking teachers and school HT would want to do anyway.

And SEN money needs to be both adequate and ringfenced.

I know of a primary school, that in the last 2 years has managed to 'get rid' of 6 pupils with SEN. Their SATS this year were 100% across the board, which justifies this decision to the HT and to the 'other' parents.

The bullying nature of this school has thankfully, raised some interest in a Local Councillor but I doubt it will go further than his 'interest'. Those 6 families won't get the support of the other parents, nor of the staff of the school, nor the LA.

SunnyIntervals Tue 27-Aug-13 11:16:48

Could families in this position go to the media with MNHQ support as part of this is my child?

Do you have any thoughts MNHQ about what could be done to support parents where children are being forced out if schools?

To my mind this deserves to be a national scandal sad

I don't know the families myself. I have a reliable source but I can't post the details atm as that will close down the options for the families, but they are taking action.

But the thing is, there is absolutely NO incentive for a school to work with parents of children with SEN, and huge incentives for them to find ways of ensuring that their school isn't either picked, or suitable.

Schools get money for children with SEN, but they have to then use this money before the LA top up anything over £10k.

If they managed to spend none of their SEN money on SEN, the LA doesn't get it back. The school gets to keep it. With the new rules I imagine it won't be long before HTs could award themselves a bonus for their 'financial efficiency', or simply attract families who will ensure their SATS results are going to be high without having to spend money on support for those children.

I have to add though that many SENCOS and teachers have very little training in either SEN or the law, and what they do have rarely comes from unbiased or independent sources.

Often they can truly believe that a child would be better placed elsewhere. Unfortunately they don't understand that 'elsewhere' just doesn't exist.

SunnyIntervals Tue 27-Aug-13 11:50:06

Sadly Starlight, I think what many in the general public still think is that all children with any degree of SEN should be educated in Special Schools. They do not realise the places don't exist.

I think it is also easy for a potential school to see the availability of 'elsewhere' or not beyond their concern as they have quite enough to do with the children that are IN their school, with the hoops they are required to jump through and the ever-increasing demands and lists of criticisms.

I honestly can't see what a child with SEN, can bring to a school except extra work, extra hassle and a cost. In some ways I think it is less problematic for schools admitting children without a statement because their legal entitlement to support isn't a statutory responsibility of the LA to be delivered by a school.

Those without statements can be admitted and then 'managed' rather than 'educated', through the school system for as cheaply as possible, so not having a statement can make it easier to get place. If you so much as hint that you have expectations for your child at the show-around you'll be sent packing.

Interestingly, having a statement means you can chose your school. But who in their right mind would send their children to a school that made it clear from the outset that they would in the best case, tolerate your child, but in the worst refuse to deliver on their statutory duty and fulfil the provision in the statement?

The statement is the child's protection of their provision, in law. But those of us on the SN boards have story after story of schools having no regard for what is written in the statement, with the key to enabling schools to do this the closed doors to parents, and the inability of their children to communicate what goes on.

SunnyIntervals Tue 27-Aug-13 13:40:14

Awful sad

No incentive should be needed for any school or teacher other than the desire to do the best for every child.

If, as it seeks is the case, we have created a system where that incentive is in competition with others, we need to do something about it.

SunnyIntervals Tue 27-Aug-13 13:40:29

Seems not seeks

Tidypidy Tue 27-Aug-13 21:34:20

Thank you MNHQ for including a picture of my ds in the gallery. It makes me very proud.

ViviPru Wed 28-Aug-13 09:46:02

Is yours the owl child, Tidy? I've become somewhat enchanted by him.....

JakeBullet Wed 28-Aug-13 14:03:23

My experience seems to be all too common then sadly. What makes me crossed is that the SENCAN seemed utterly horrified by what I have experienced.....and seemed to indicate it was out of the usual order f things but it isn't from what I can glean from other parents.

I CAN understand why they do it but.....

JakeBullet Wed 28-Aug-13 14:05:02

Hmmm....pondering on visiting all the local MS secondary schools with a question sheet and a tape recorder. hmm

SunnyIntervals Wed 28-Aug-13 14:29:23

I have reported my post to MNHQ and asked if there is anything they think they could do to highlight the plight of families where dc with SEN are forced out of school.

JakeBullet Wed 28-Aug-13 15:35:46

The thing is that my DS has to go SOMEWHERE, he is deemed too able for the special schools and having visited them I agree as socially he is very able....of a bit odd.

It is very dispiriting to think that I have to send him to me of these schools which really don't want him.

On a positive note one of the schools I visited has a very good name for supporting children with SEN. Again the SENCO is of the "he is going to struggle all the way through" variety but I know enough of the experience of other parents to know the school does a good job.

wishtoremainanonymous Wed 28-Aug-13 19:20:45

sunny it's a nice idea about publicising this sort of practice in the media and it would be nice if some big names with legal clout could protect those that want to speak out. The problem is that you still have the LA to contend with if you dare to criticise a school that has a reputation for being very inclusive. They will back their schools all the way and, as I've found, even cover up for them. Complaints go nowhere - I've even been threatened with legal action if I dare to speak out about certain things. I've uncovered various illegal practices but it's all been denied.They think that no-one will actually believe you if you tell anyone as 'where's the proof?'. Usually it's their word against yours and as they are 'professionals' society prefers to believe them than the parent of a disabled child. I happen to have however a huge amount of written evidence about what happened to my ds and how appallingly he was treated - they're not as clever as they think they are. I'm just waiting for the right moment to publicise it.
Jake - I know what you mean about secondary schools. When I went to talk to a Senco she totally blanked my ds. She looked and said 'is that him over there? I heard that he might be coming here'. She then wittered on about various 'woo' strategies that she used to help her 'special children'. She said that she had a child similar to ds but he had always managed very well there. When I asked what strategies were used for managing meltdowns or angry outbursts she said ' we don't have those in school - I call the parents to collect the child so there's no disruption'. angry
Needless to say the school is thrilled to have recently received an 'outstanding' Ofsted rating.

I agree. It is impossible to prove that this kind of thing is happening because you might be able to say 'SENCO whinged about how much he would cost the school if we placed him there and told us that his 1:1 support wouldn't be used exclusively for him as there are children much more deserving disruptive', which is all they would have to say to out a parent off.

But that is hardly a media story. And when the LA were questioned they'd just say 'well the school got an outstanding rating and the SENCO has a good reputation and wouldn't have said that'.

wishtoremainanonymous Wed 28-Aug-13 19:37:19

I would definitely recommend that anyone who has concerns obtains both their child's school and LA records - it's absolutely shocking some of the things you can uncover. Most people (apart from those on those on the SN board) would be totally horrified by the things I've uncovered.
I am waiting for the SS knock at the door as that seems to be the usual tactic to try to silence 'troublemakers'.

Tidypidy Thu 29-Aug-13 20:16:40

Vivi - my ds is walking across a log tightrope at Heligan. Did you spot his insulin pump?!

Trigglesx Sun 01-Sep-13 07:53:11

When we went looking at our local junior school, in the process of deciding whether or not DS1 could cope, the SENCO there told us that they were very inclusive - then proceeded to point out the separate lunch room, the separate classroom if needed, kept hearing the word "separate".. hmm And she capped it off by showing me the DENTENTION room, saying "if he is having difficulty coping, he can sit in here for awhile." The detention room?!?! So basically, he'll think he's being punished for struggling to cope? No thanks. angry

He is now in a lovely specialised school that is brilliant for him.

SunnyIntervals Sun 01-Sep-13 08:34:18

Triggles, that really makes me angry that you were treated like that.

Trigglesx Sun 01-Sep-13 08:39:00

I made it quite clear that it was unacceptable to put a child in detention in that situation. What makes me quite sad and angry is that there are obviously other children being treated this way at that school. Thankfully, DS1 is at a lovely school, but not all children are that lucky.

Chemayne36 Mon 09-Sep-13 15:40:00

Thankyou thankyou thankyou!!!! I've just stumbled across this campaign after reading an article in the guardian.
I have a severely disabled 15 year old boy and you have basically wrapped up all my thoughts and feelings into this campaign!! Someone is finally listening and doing something!!! This is kinda an epiphany for me to come across like minded people and genuinely know what it is like to experience what me and my family do on a dally basis!

I've had someone tell me I should have let him die after a traumatic birth and weeks in intensive care and I had no right to bring him into society and burden taxpayers with our problems. (It was hospital errors that caused his disabilities)
That's the most hurtful thing that's ever been said to me but there is a long long list of other people's negative and damn right rude remarks. I've had people walk in lamp posts for staring so much (we got the last laugh there, my son foubd that very funny!) and a woman with young children have a physical fight with me as his wheelchair was protruding from a till and she couldn't get her buggy! Pathetic!

Thanks once again!!!

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 10-Sep-13 09:55:51

Aw thank you Chemayne. Do please have a look at our SN: Children and SN: Teens and Young Adults talk sections. The campaign was build from the responses and experiences of the posters on our Special Needs boards.

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